Pendennis Castle, 2012

Pendennis Castle, Cornwall, 26-27 August 2012

Pendennis Castle may have been one of the wettest and windiest events we have ever done. The advance party arrived on the Wednesday to what was a fairly dry day. After a tense few hours squeezing the searchlight and generator through the extremely narrow castle gatehouse, the plastic tents were erected and we made our selves comfortable for the night after a fish-and-chip supper. The Thursday morning was not too bad and as the sun was out we decided to go out for the day around Falmouth. The weather improved during the day so the gang decided to have a BBQ which went down well even if the temperature started to plummet.

The Friday morning started very early as force 4 wind and rain hit us at around 5am and by 6am members of the group could be heard banging in their pegs trying to save their tents. The day started badly and just kept getting worse but we muddled through mostly sitting in the cafe trying to escape the weather. We did have a small break in the weather late afternoon and so we erected the marquee. We finished late and so decided to go to Pizza Express for tea - just as we drove out the HMS group turned up so we turn round and gathered them up and we all went down for food.

The Saturday started off as bad with non-stop rain although the wind was easing. Rodney and the Ulrich clan turned up before lunch and the rain was starting to ease off so we got the rest of the tents up and hunkered down for a another night of rain, but it cleared at about 8pm. We had heard that the Sunday was going to be fine and we believed a good day was possible. Saturday night saw the beginning of our official show, with the searchlight being sparked up with its new carbons (see below for pictures).

Sunday was the best day we had; the displays went well and we even made a new friend, Arnold Woodward, an old gunner veteran from Bristol who had a great day with us. Our veteran enjoyed himself so much that he returned the next day, braving the rain we got on Monday to come back and fire the gun again (although some suggested it may have been to chase the ATS girls around!) Meeting Arnold was certainly one of the highlights of the weekend; his enthusiasm and knowledge was truly inspiring. His firing of the gun even made national news, with a nice article on the Daily Mail’s website, and a piece in the Western Daily Press.

Tuesday dawned bright and warm, and although our public duty was over, we were lucky that at least we could get the tents dry before packing.

If I was honest I planned the event in the hope of great weather but in denial I took no waterproofs and suffered because of it as we all did. It was no holiday but a hard slog most of the time just trying to better the weather. If I were to go again I would not do it under canvas and would give careful thought to the equipment taken. Nevertheless, the location was spectacular and there were some great moments, and firing the 155mm 'Long Tom', especially on the Monday, was something special.

I would like to thank everyone who came to Pendennis Castle for all the hard work put into salvaging what could have been a real disaster.


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